Tracking online conversations

Tom Foremski wrote this morning about a presentation that included some possible future products from Technorati. I won’t comment on future products, but it’s interesting to take a look at some of the underlying issues some bloggers are worried about.

Commercial Use

Can another company make money off of your content? I currently receive a lot of referral traffic from a variety of search services such as Google, Yahoo!, and MSN. Each search company sells advertisements alongside an excerpt of my content. I have no problem with Google, Yahoo!, and MSN making money off of my content because they also send me enough traffic for me to make money by reputation or by my own advertisements.

Each company benefitting from my content should provide me a way to opt-out without me resorting to banning IP addresses. Lack of exclusion my main complaint about services such as Ping-o-Matic RPC or Feedmesh.

Who is listening?

Technorati is offering services that will help companies control their corporate message by identifying those blogs and their social network, that have posted around the “wrong” message. Then, I would imagine, some sort of corporate “SWAT” team could parachute in and engage those off-message bloggers.

I expect any alert service or intelligence product would have uses for good and evil. Many people currently subscribe to ego searches in blog search engines and news searches through Google News alerts allowing you to watch millions of sources for mentions of the terms of interest any many companies act on those data today.

A service such as Google or Technorati does not interpret a message as right or wrong, but a person interprets the conversation and may choose to take action or simply listen. I know many small software businesses tracking online conversations around their products. If I mention NetNewsWire or Ecto I might attract the attention of Brent Simmons or Adriaan Tijsseling after they receive a news alert about their product. I like being engaged by Brent and Adriaan and it definitely keeps me more honest. Brent and Adriaan both have blogs but they also engage their users, answer questions, and join in the conversation across the blogosphere. I expect companies that want to understand online content and use the content as a focus group and a feedback loop to be good actors or learn along the way.

Thoughts on the future

I continue to believe content rights will be a huge point of contention this year. There will be advertisements alongside the full content of the content you publish to a feed service, an e-mail service, and even perhaps desktop search. Browsers such as Opera display advertisements for every page rendered by the free version of their software. I discover new uses of my content with each new user-agent. I continue to publish, ban the bad actors, and explore new ways of interacting with data.

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Commentary on "Tracking online conversations":

  1. nortypig on wrote:

    I’m always a bit skeptical about putting anything on the web if it’s not up there to be shared. Grey boundaries. For instance, I have 2 blogs – 1 a normal design blog and another links blog. Neither currently have paid advertising.

    In fact in the past I think I’ve linked to several of your articles.

    So I guess what I’m saying is if you don’t want to be linked to that’s fine and I’ll cease and desist. I would only offer that couple of people in traffic at best.

    But this is exactly one of the things that may sink the idea of blogging itself – wanting full control of content rights. Not because it’s wrong but because when you start to say don’t link to me then the whole point of the web being about freely hyperlinking to documents gets screwed up.

    But I’ll respect your wishes with a polite shrug if that’s your wish.

    My web is about US and WE and not ME and MY stuff. I guess that’s the way I see it. If I’ve got valuable information I’d go for a book perhaps.

    I don’t necessarily mean this as personal criticism but rather as a social comment on what you too see as a trend for this year in pushing copyright onto blogs.

  2. Niall Kennedy on wrote:

    I have no problem with the free use of my content. I even have a Creative Commons attribution license on my content. Some people care a lot about the redistribution of their content however.

    I certainly did not intend for any individual to question how they use my content online. There’s participating in a conversation and there is also the harvesting of content and claiming it as one’s own, or selling a book of my blog posts.

    Please, continue to write about my content, excerpt at will, and even remix it if you would like. I’m not withdrawing from any conversations.

  3. Adriaan on wrote:

    Sorry, did you call me?

  4. Tim on wrote:

    My favorite was getting an IM from Dave within 15 minutes of my Technorati Toast? post. Clearly you guys eat your own dog food.

    P.S. I also thanked Dave for how responsive you had been to my spam complaints.